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November 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Although the critics’ principal complaint about Conan O’Brien’s new show has been that it failed to innovate and dragged out just another tired, late-night-talk-show format, a veteran network executive has maintained that viewers demand such a format. In an interview with Reuters, Richard Wald, who served stints as president of ABC News and NBC News and is now a professor of journalism at Columbia University, said, “In television, things tend to change very, very slowly. … All of the best formulas are there because they have proven to be popular. It’s like American beers — they all tend to taste like Budweiser because it’s very popular. In television too, everybody seeks to find the center of taste.” His remarks were echoed by New York Times TV reporter Bill Carter, who has written two books about the late-night television rivalry (his The War for Late Night was published last week). “There is something in the DNA of that format that people accept and they do not want it shaken up,” Carter told Reuters. “Every time someone has tried a different set up, whether its a different monologue or getting rid of the desk and sofa and just having two chairs, people have been uncomfortable with it and then gone back to the original way,” he said.